Chinese tennis starting to see benefits of commitment with a new star emerging - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Focus

Chinese tennis starting to see benefits of commitment with a new star emerging

Published

on

Li Na’s tennis successor is quickly appearing in the form of Wibing Yu. (Zimbio.com)

Most people who have followed tennis over the last decade are aware of Li Na. The superstar drove tennis in China to new heights when she won the 2011 French Open and then the 2014 Australian Open.

Since Na’s retirement in 2014, Chinese tennis has had to wait for a new superstar. Whilst heavy financial investment in sports such as football has quickly been able to attract star players to the new-found wealth of teams in Shanghai and Beijing, building a tennis legacy has taken more time.

Wibing Yu appears to be on the cusp of coming into the mainstream as China’s new hope in the men’s game. The 17 year-old came to wider attention when he won the US Open Junior Singles and Doubles titles earlier this year. Yet it was just this past week with his stunning run to the Shanghai Challenger title that adds more weight to the argument that China will soon be able to compete in a sport that has been largely dominated by players from Europe, The Americas, and Australia, and, more recently, China’s regional rivals, South Korea and Japan.

Players from China have won Challenger titles before. Indeed, Yu is not the only Chinese player to win a title at this level even this season. Ze Zhang picked up his first title at this level in San Francisco in February, whilst Di Wu, also won a title in January 2016. Yet for all their successes, (Zhang has a tour-level win over former Grand Slam semi-finalist Richard Gasquet,) they are both seen as journeymen players who have not quite been capable of carrying the weight of expectation that China is now developing. Neither have been ranked in the Top 100, though both are solidly ranked inside the Top 200.

This is where Yu comes in. At 17 and the Junior No.1, there was cautious optimism that he might make the grade. Now, with a high-level professional Challenger title under his belt, the case for his star potential is slowly but surely gaining more traction. Consider that Yu having won a junior Grand Slam and a Challenger title in the same season puts him in some exclusive and esteemed company. Amongst players in the last five years to have won a junior Grand Slam and a Challenger title are Top 10 star Alexander Zverev, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, and the USA’s Taylor Fritz. All three are Top 100 players, with Zverev and Kyrgios now inside the Top 30.

Tennis may encourage, even require countries to develop their own players to represent them, unlike sports including football where international stars can be convinced to play for Chinese clubs for financial reasons. This does not mean that China has not looked abroad for help. Di Wu is now coached by two-time ATP title winner Davide Sanguinetti, and Yu is coached by Yahum Garcia Sanchez, adding a distinctly European feel to the coaching set-up.

Boris Becker has made a significant commitment to Chinese tennis by opening an academy in Shenzhen (Zimbio.com)

China is not only committed to supplying their existing players with high-profile support. In 2016, former Wimbledon Champion and World No.1 Boris Becker opened his Becker Academy in Shenzhen, site of a Chinese professional tour event.

Becker: “Clearly there is tremendous talent and potential among young tennis players in China.

China appears to be putting significant grassroots down to build for the tennis future. Li Na’s legacy is already appearing in the form of Wibing Yu, and he is likely just the first in a number of Chinese players set to appear in the higher reaches of the game in the coming years.

Becker: “This is the biggest country in the world, but no male players in the top 100 – we’re about to change this.

Becker’s assertion looks set to quickly become a reality if Yu’s recent progress is continued.

 

Focus

David Goffin Slams Hostile French Open Crowd

Published

on

A fan at the French Open spat out their chewing gum at David Goffin during a tense first round clash at the tournament on Tuesday. 

Goffin, who is a former quarter-finalist in Paris, described the reception he received from the crowd as ‘total disrespect’ during his clash against home player Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard. A 20-year-old wild card who recently claimed his maiden Tour title in Lyon. The Belgian managed to oust the home player 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, after more than three-and-half hours of play. 

During one stage of the match, Goffin was seen holding his hand to his ear towards the rowdy crowd. A gesture he felt he had the right to do considering the atmosphere.

“When you are insulted for three and a half hours, you have to tease the public a little,” The I quoted Goffin as saying.
“Clearly, it goes too far, it’s total disrespect. It’s really too much. It’s becoming football, soon there will be smoke bombs, hooligans and there will be fights in the stands.
“It’s starting to become ridiculous. Some people are there more to cause trouble than to create an atmosphere.
“Someone spat out their chewing gum at me. It [the match] was getting complicated. That’s why I wanted to stay calm. IfI started to get angry about it, it could have destabilised me.”

The French Open crowd has a reputation for being highly animated during matches with there being numerous examples throughout the years. Nicolas Jarry received booing when he walked on the court to play Corentin Moutet after an incident between the two earlier this season. 

“This is repeated a lot in the locker room and among the ATP authorities. We’re going to have to do something about that,” Goffin continued.
“I think it only happens in France. At Wimbledon, obviously, there’s not that. Or in Australia either. And at the US Open, it’s still rather quiet. Here [at Roland Garros], it’s really an unhealthy atmosphere.”

However, former French Open junior doubles champion Mpetshi Perricard has praised the support he got from the fans during his match. It was only the second time in his career that the world No.66 has played in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.

“It was really nice to have so much support,” he said.
“I had a lot in Lyon as well, but that was different because here the guys are really with you from first to the last point. It’sreally very pleasant to have such an audience.
“I like it that they encouraged me. It helped me when I was broken in the fourth [set], and I would like to thank them for it. It’s really fantastic to have these guys there.”

Goffin will be hoping to get more support in his second round match against Alexander Zverev on Thursday. He is making his 13th main draw appearance in Paris at the age of 33. 

Continue Reading

Focus

Holger Rune Beats Evans in Straight Sets and Moves into Round 2

Danish 13th seed praises improved mentality; aims to get back to the top five

Published

on

Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Thirteenth seed Holger Rune came through in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 over Dan Evans in cold indoor conditions under the roof on Suzanne-Lenglen and goes on to face Italian Flavio Cobolli in round two.

The defeat for Evans meant that there are now no British men left in the singles draw after disappointing first round losses for Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie.

Rune, who once shared a practice session with Evans, admitted it took time to figure out his opponent’s game style: “It’s not that I know his game inside and out. He likes the slice obviously, and he’s a very good grass court player as well so he plays pretty flat over the net. So, yeah, it took a lot of time to adjust.”

Rune, a two-time former quarter finalist at the French Open, broke serve with the score tied at 4-4 in the first set and then served out to take the opener. A single break of serve was enough again in the second, while he had to dig much deeper in the third set when he went 4-2 down but managed to maintain composure to win the last four games to seal victory. The 21-year-old was very satisfied with his first-round performance and was pleased his intense practice sessions had been paying off.

“It was a good start, I think. Very solid match from start to finish. We had a good preparation, I would say. We had obviously time after Rome to really prepare with my game and physically and mentally, as well. I think we used the time right. So now is just to perform and put everything together. We are working always on my game. I think my game is good. My physicality felt great today, so it’s a thing we have really been working on to be able to stay out there and not feel fatigued and feel explosive even after hours of playing, and I definitely felt that today.”

Rune finished the match with eight aces, and more than double the number of winners (44 to 21), while Evans struggled with his serve making less than 50% of first serves in play along with five double faults. Whilst approaching the net numerous times throughout the match, he was passed sixteen times by some wonderful strokes off both wings by his Danish opponent. Rune was impressed with his mentality afterwards: “Mentally I just had to stay composed. You know, there is always challenges in the matches. Today was a call here and there. I thought I stayed composed. Been working on that, as well.”

Rune, who won 75% of points on his first serve definitely felt like he is on the right path to get him back inside the top five of the rankings: “I feel like I’m kind of back on track, have stability in my team, which is nice in my life. So, it’s going in the right direction. I’m improving on court. Now it’s just about getting that few match wins under the belt, to get some rhythm and gain some confidence in the matches as well. Then, I believe, you know, I’m fitter than last year. I’m playing better and improved. I just need to put everything together.”

Continue Reading

ATP

Casper Ruud Downplays French Open Chances After ‘Best start’ To Season

Published

on

Casper Ruud says he doesn’t rank himself among the favourites for French Open glory despite a successful clay swing.

The Norwegian comes into Paris with two titles under his belt after winning the Barcelona Open in April followed by the Geneva Open last week. He also reached the final in Monte Carlo, the semi-finals in Estoril and the fourth round in Madrid. Ruud is without a doubt a threat on the surface, especially at the French Open where he has finished runner-up the past two years. 

Although the world No.7 is keen to distance himself from any talk about being a title contender despite his credentials. This year’s men’s draw is being described by some as the most open in recent years with Novak Djokovic yet to find his top level consistently. Meanwhile, Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner have both been troubled by injury issues.

This season has been the best start for me, the best kind of five months that I’ve ever had to begin the year,” Ruud told reporters on Sunday.
“Then Madrid and Rome were two disappointing results for me, and that’s also a little bit why I decided to go to Geneva. 
“I wanted to build up some momentum playing matches again. Obviously winning the tournament is a good feeling. It gives you confidence, but it feels like it’s anyone’s tournament and anyone’s game really. 
“If you look at it’s been several different winners on the clay this year, and in the three Masters 1000 alone there’s been three different winners.
“To me even though Novak hasn’t had the best year as he typically has or at the same level, I think he is still the favourite. He is the No. 1 seeded, and he has 24 slams under his belt, so if there’s anyone who knows when to find their peak and form, it’s probably him.”. 

As for his chances of claiming a maiden major title, Ruud says he doesn’t want to consider himself a favourite as it would put too much pressure on him to perform. He is the seventh seed in this year’s draw.

I wouldn’t put myself in the list (of title favourites) because I don’t want to kind of put pressure on myself, but I would put Novak up there definitely.” He said.
“It’s not a big if, but depending on how Carlos, Jannik, and Rafa feel, I feel like those three are also worth mentioning. If they are injury-free, I would consider them, well, four then. I would go with four guys. 
“It’s tough to kind of leave any of those out due to the fact that Rafa has won here 14 times and then Jannik and Carlos have been the sort of best of the younger generation in the past year or two. So I think that’s a good list of four.”

Ruud will begin his French Open campaign against Brazil’s Felipe Alves.

Continue Reading

Trending